In January 2012, Nashville MTA completed a year-long Alternatives Analysis on the East-West corridor that identified the bus rapid transit system (BRT) as the preferred transit alternative, at half the cost of a streetcar system.
The AMP, formerly known as the East-West Connector, will redefine transit in Nashville, providing economic development opportunities along the route and serving as the backbone for the success of a mass transportation initiative throughout Middle Tennessee.
A new U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report finds bus rapid transit systems generally increase ridership and provide improved service over previous transit service on the same route. The systems reviewed by the GAO reported "increases in ridership after one year of service and reduced average travel times of 10 to 35 percent over previous bus services."
Although there are numerous factors that contribute to economic development, the GAO study reported that the BRT projects play a substantial role. Officials in Cleveland, Ohio said that between $4 and $5 billion was invested near the city's Healthline BRT. Among the key factors supporting BRT's ability to contribute to economic development were the "physical factors of BRT (stations, dedicated lanes) relay a sense of permanence to developers; employment and activity centers located along the corridor; and local policies/incentives that encourage transit-oriented development."
The report also mentioned the "quick construction and implementation and operational flexibility of BRT" provides benefits to communities with the systems as well as the lower capital costs for a system compared to a rail project.